Galata is just north, across the Golden Horn, from the Old City of Istanbul. Further north is Beyoğlu: İstiklal Avenue is its thoroughfare, and adjoining Taksim Square is considered the heart of the city — if it were sensible to speak of a "downtown" for multicentric Istanbul, that would most likely refer to this area.
Besides the Sultanahmet/Old City area, this is where you will spend most time during your Istanbul trip — the district has its fair share of sights, dining, nightlife, and accommodation.
Galata (Turkish: Karaköy) has its beginnings in the apparently rural Byzantine port of Sykai ("fig orchard"). It rose to prominence in the 14th century as a trade colony of the Genoese, also with a large population of the Venetians, adjacent to the Byzantine seat Constantinople. After the Ottomans captured Istanbul, the previous arrangement was more or less left intact — Galata was still autonomous, but had its city walls razed just in case the Italians decided to go rogue as they habitually did in their relations with the Byzantines (the only remains of the once mighty Galata Castle are the Galata Tower, a short section of wall ruins below the Golden Horn metro bridge, and a couple of scattered, ruined towers incorporated into the dense urban fabric in the meantime). To the north, there were only a few lodges of the hermits seeking seclusion in wilderness as well as a few countryside mansions of the rich and powerful, including a son of a Genoese ruler of Galata. It was him whom the area is named after: Beyoğlu, "son of the lord" (Galatasaray was the likely site of his manor, and derives its name, literally "Galata palace", from it). Europeans knew this area after its Greek name, Pera, "the other side", as per the point of view of Constantinople. Beyoğlu/Pera wasn't urbanized until the 1850s, when the Grande Rue de Péra (Great Avenue of Pera) or present-day İstiklal Avenue (İstiklal Caddesi) was opened. Further north, Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı) is even younger; it was developed as a city square as late as the 1930s.
Ever since its cornerstone was laid as a Western foothold (Northern Italian and Roman Catholic) just beside an Eastern Constantinople (Byzantine and Greek Orthodox, later Ottoman and Muslim), Galata has always been destined to represent the "West". This is quite easily visible from the area's architectural heritage — whichever style was in vogue in Europe was simultaneously adopted here — but there is more than meets the eye: the district has been the home to the first street lighting, the first underground railway (Tünel, built in 1875, also the oldest in continental Europe), and the first European-style hotel and theatres in the country. It was also the host to the main European population of the city, in addition to the Levantines, as the descendants of the original Italian settlers came to be known, and parts of the non-Muslim groups of the multiconfessional Ottoman society. During the last century of the Ottoman Empire, when the modernization and westernization efforts reached a climax, the decision of the Ottoman dynasty to abandon the Topkapı Palace, their centuries-old and distinctly Oriental seat in Old Istanbul, in favour of the western-style Dolmabahçe Palace near Beyoğlu was a symbolic act that clearly manifested the direction the country would get to take.
From the 19th century, Galata had been a major financial centre, and Beyoğlu the diplomatic district — impressive buildings of embassies, downgraded to consulates since the capital was moved to Ankara, and former bank headquarters still dot the area. In the 1920s the White Russians fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution settled in numbers. Their contribution to the local microcosm laid the foundations of the nightlife scene that would later become a distinctive feature of the district.
The most gruesome episodes of the 1955 Istanbul Pogrom were played out in Beyoğlu, and consequently many minorities, particularly the Greeks, left. This ended the district's truly multicultural period, which was the basis of its character and essence. In the later decades, the stock exchange and the headquarters of the banks and insurance companies moved north to the new business district, as did the fashion retail and the associated ateliers to Nişantaşı. Then the district became a shadow of its former self, and more or less degraded into an urban decay zone.
The 1990s saw a revival and the first gentrification efforts, and accordingly an exponential return of the nightlife scene. In 2013, here was the epicentre of the Gezi Park protests, which began as a peaceful sit-in against planned redevelopment of Gezi Park at the side of Taksim Square, but after a heavy-handed reaction by the government, turned into the largest demonstrations in modern Turkish history in opposition to the ever-growing authoritarianism and conservatism of the AKP government. Under the pressure of the government, perhaps seeking retaliation, Beyoğlu is in a transformation again as of the 2020s: more and more nightlife venues are moving out to areas such as Asmalımescit, Galata or elsewhere in the city, and the more Islamic-compliant hookah cafes are opening up in their place, and traditional stores and art galleries are being replaced by massive shopping malls. Held in the district since 2003, Istanbul Pride, the first and largest LGBT event in the Muslim-majority countries and attracted more than 100,000 people in 2014 has been banned from the next year on. A bulky Taksim Mosque, built in 2017, now looms over the square, sidelining the Hagia Triada Church which used to dominate the view. It remains to be seen whether this transition will lead to a permanent change and keep the district from a return to its roots.
But don't let your heart wither: the district is still beautiful and exciting to visit. Its core is pedestrianised İstiklal Avenue, thronged by people of all ages and origins strolling, enlivened by street musicians, and lined by restaurants and retail outlets. It's 2 km long and connects three squares: Taksim in the north is the biggest, Galatasaray Square in the middle is really just a widening of the street, and Tünel Square is at the southern end. A vintage tram trundles along its length.
The famous vintage tram of Istiklal Street is not as ancient as it may seem. Well, the tram cars are ancient (dating back to the 1920s) but its track is not. The tram service in the European Side of Istanbul came to a complete end in 1961, when they were replaced by buses and their tracks were removed. In 1992, the city council decided to pedestrianize Istiklal Street (after the opening of the paralleling, much wider Tarlabaşı Boulevard, in a move which costed the city several hundred historic buildings). After the motorized vehicles were banned from the street, its surface got a facelift and new tracks for the ancient tram were laid down.
- Metro line M2 passes through Taksim Square from the northern districts and from as far south as Yenikapı.
- Airport shuttle buses run by Havaş connect Taksim Square with Istanbul International Airport and with Asia-side Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
- Taksim Square is very central to the city life, so it’s possible to find a direct public bus from everywhere but the outermost suburbs.
- Dolmuşes also bring passengers from Beşiktaş, Bakırköy, Kadıköy and Bostancı (both in the Asian Side) to Taksim.
- Modern tram line T1 connects the lower parts of the district on the Bosphorus (such as Karaköy, Tophane, Fındıklı, Kabataş) with the peninsula of the Old City. Funicular F1 connects its Kabataş station with Taksim on M2 metro.
- The vintage tram T2, although integrated into the ticket system of the city's public transport, is more of an attraction than a serious method of going somewhere.
- Ferries from Kadıköy across the Bosphorus moor at Karaköy.
- You can cross to the Galata/Karaköy side from Eminönü via the Galata Bridge on foot.
- The Tünel funicular (F2) connects Istiklal Caddesi with Karaköy at the sea level on the Golden Horn. It's the second oldest urban underground railway in the world (after London’s Underground), dating back to 1875. Although the distance travelled is rather short between its two stations (a whopping 573 meters, which perhaps make it also the title winner for being the shortest metro line of the planet), it beats the effort one has to make to climb up the steep slope between its stations. For its lower station, look for the sign Tünel on the side of a building just over the Galata Bridge on the western side of the street. It costs 2.50 TL/person one-way (Istanbulkart is accepted) and departs every 5 minutes M-Sa 07:00-22:30, Su 07:30-22:30.
Around Galata Tower
The bankers’ town of Galata was a cosmopolis crowned by the Tower.
- 1 Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) ( Şişhane 500 m, Beyoğlu 400 m downhill, Karaköy 400 m uphill, Tünel Meydanı 400 m; between Karaköy/Galata and the lower end of Istiklal St), ☏ . Daily 08:30-23:00 (last entry at 22:00). It was built by the Genoese in the 14th century on the city walls of Galata, marking the highest point of their territory. Ride an elevator and take two flights of stairs to the top, then walk the parapet for a 360°-view of Istanbul, including the entire Sultanahmet peninsula: crowned by Topkapı Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. A beautiful spot worthy of a lot of pictures. 175 TL.
- 2 Galata Convent of Whirling Dervishes (Galata Mevlevihanesi), Galip Dede Cd 15, Tünel ( Şişhane 80 m, Beyoğlu 90 m, Tünel Meydanı 90 m; on the downhill street just below the lower end of İstiklal Cd; there is a small brown sign at the corner of Galip Dede Cd), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-Su 09:00-20:00 (last entry at 19:00). A ritual dancing hall of the mystical Mevlevi order, the followers of the teachings of Mewlānā Rumi. The quiet and peaceful garden is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Beyoğlu. The oldest Mevlevi lodge in Istanbul, the convent was started in 1491, when the surrounding area was, hard to believe today but, pure wilderness beyond the city walls of Galata, although the current building dates back to 1855, as the older versions succumbed to repairs, rebuildings, and fires. However, the lodge was shut down in the early years of the republic (in 1925) along with all other 'reactionary' movements in Turkey, and the building has been serving as a museum dedicated to the Mevlevi order since 2010. Downstairs is a series of rooms dealing with the daily life of an average dervish, with informational signs in Turkish and English about the history of Islam and the Mevlevi order (also notice the original wooden pillars that support the building on this floor). On the upper floor is a dancing hall, a perfect example of 19th century Ottoman Baroque. Pre-Covid, this was where the sema whirling ceremonies were held every weekend evenings (admission by an extra ticket costing around 100 TL); check if they resumed. On the third floor is a display of various traditional Turkish/Islamic arts, including paper marbling (ebru), and calligraphy. After exiting the building, check out the small graveyard (or the "silent house" as the sign at its entrance says) on one side of the building, shaded by a number of hackberry trees, which Ottomans favoured to plant in the yards of mosques and graves to sign holiness. Here, the carved fez, or the basket of flowers in case of women, perched upon the highly detailed marble gravestone indicates the occupant's rank in the dervish hierarchy. At one corner of the necropolis is the grave of İbrahim Müteferrika, a converted Hungarian who was the first to start automated publishing in Ottoman Turkish in the 18th century, and served as the translator of Hungarian revolutionaries who sought asylum in Turkey, such as Kossuth, who stayed for a year in Kütahya, or Ferenc Rakoczi, who lived his last years in Tekirdağ. 40 TL.
- 3 Crimean Memorial Church (Kırım Kilisesi, Christ Church), Kumbaracıbaşı Yokuşu ( Şişhane 220 m, Beyoğlu 300 m, Tünel Meydanı 300 m; on one of the downhill alleys near the lower end of Istiklal St, look for the street sign). A neo-gothic Anglican cathedral which would not be out of place in northwestern Europe, the Crimean Memorial Church was built for the Protestant community of the city by Britain in the late 19th century. It was named in honour of the soldiers died in the Crimean War of 1856, fought against Russia by the allied Ottoman and British Empires. The congregation of the church today mostly consists of Anglican East Asians and Sri Lankans resident in Istanbul. Free but 10 TL donation is requested for maintenance of the church.
- 4 Arap Camii (Galata Camii, San Paolo, San Domenico), Galata Mahkemesi Sk ( Şişhane 600 m, Haliç 750 m, Karaköy 400 m, Karaköy 550 m, Perşembe Pazarı 260 m). The building was erected as a Roman Catholic church in 1325 by the friars of the Dominican Order, near or above an earlier chapel dedicated to Saint Paul (Italian: San Paolo) in 1233. In 1299, the Dominican Friar Guillaume Bernard de Sévérac bought a house near the church, where he established a monastery with 12 friars. A new, much larger church was built near or above the chapel of San Paolo in 1325. Thereafter the church was officially dedicated to San Domenico. After the Fall of Constantinople, according to the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire with the Republic of Genoa, the church, which by that time was known by the Turks under the name of Mesa Domenico, remained in Genoese hands, but between 1475 and 1478 it was transformed, with minor modifications, into a mosque by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and became known as Galata Camii ("Galata Mosque") or Cami-i Kebir ("Great Mosque"). Towards the end of the century Sultan Bayezid II assigned the building to those Muslims of Spain (Andalusia) who had fled the Spanish Inquisition and migrated to Istanbul; hence the present name Arap Camii (Arab Mosque). Today, Arap Camii is the largest mosque on the Galata side of the Golden Horn. It is one of the most interesting mosques in the city due to its early Italian Gothic architectural style and church belfry, which has practically remained unaltered even after being converted into a minaret.
Since 1492 the prosperity and creativity of the Ottoman Jews rivaled that of the Golden Age of Spain. Today the Jewish community in Turkey is about 26,000 and most of them live in Istanbul.
- 5 Neve Shalom Synagogue ( Şişhane 260 m, Beyoğlu 300 m, Tünel Meydanı 300 m), ☏ . M-Th 10:00-16:00,F 10:00-13:00,Su 10:00-14:00. The most beautiful and the largest in the city where most of the religious ceremonies like bar-mitzvahs, weddings and funerals are held.
- 6 Ashkenazi Synagogue. The only active Ashkenazi Synagogue open to visits and prayers.
- 7 The Jewish Museum of Turkey, Bereketzade Mh, Büyük Hendek Cd 39, Beyoğlu ( Şişhane 270 m, Beyoğlu 290 m, Tünel Meydanı 290 m), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10:00-16:00. Fr 10:00-13:00, Su 10:00-14:00. A former synagogue, the museum's exhibit details how the cultures mixed with and influenced each other in the past 500+ years since the Spanish expulsion.
- 8 Camondo Stairs (Kamondo Merdivenleri) ( Şişhane 650 m, Karaköy 150 m, Karaköy 250 m). An attractive stairway mixing the Neo-Baroque and early Art Nouveau styles, climbing up from Bankalar St towards the Galata Tower. It was built in the 1870s by Abraham Salomon Camondo, who belonged to a prominent Ottoman-Venetian Jewish family of financiers and philanthropists.
Along İstiklal Caddesi
- 9 Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi), Meşrutiyet Cd 65 ( Şişhane 400 m, Beyoğlu 500 m, Odakule 100 m), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-19:00, Su 12:00-18:00. A private museum with a large painting collection and archaeological collections of measurement units and tools used in Asia Minor since antiquity and faiences of Kütahya. 20 TL, concession 10 TL, free F 18:00–22:00, students free on W.
- 10 French Institute (Institut français d'Istanbul / Fransız Kültür Merkezi), İstiklal Cd 4 ( Taksim 180 m, Taksim 110 m; the first building on your right after entering İstiklal Cd from Taksim Square), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. They have good art exhibits for free and sometimes have French films in the cinema.
- 11 Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church (Aya Triada Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi), Taksim Square ( Taksim 400 m, Taksim 300 m; entry from the first side alley to the left in Istiklal Ave). A charming domed church built in 1880 at the side of Taksim Square, now uneasily contesting with Taksim Mosque for being the main landmark of the southern edge of the square.
- 12 S. Antonio di Padova Catholic Church (Sent Antuan), Istiklal Cd 171 A ( Şişhane 450 m, Galatasaray 150 m; down the street from Galatasaray Square), ☏ . Although not at the size of Hagia Sophia, this is the largest active church in Turkey. It’s directly on Istiklal St, but somewhat hidden from view by its yard portal. Catholic Masses in Italian, Turkish, and English (in different days of the week). Free.
- 13 Cezayir Street (Cezayir Sokağı) ( Galatasaray 350 m, Tophane 550 m uphill; behind Galatasaray Lisesi, walk the downhill street from Galatasaray Square). Better known as Fransız Sokağı or La Rue Française, i.e. "French Street", is an alley of statues and geraniums hanging from windows, featuring France-themed restaurants, cafes, and pubs housed in renovated and brightly-painted neo-classical buildings. Upon its inauguration in its present form in 2005, there was a brief debate on how politically correct it would be to rename the street from Cezayir (Algeria) to Fransız, who fought a bitter war against Algerian independence in the 1960s, which led the city council to abandon the idea of renaming the street.
- 14 Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi), Çukurcuma Cd, Dalgıç Çıkmazı, 2 ( Galatasaray 500 m, Tophane 550 m uphill; a few minutes walk down from İstiklal Ave), ☏ , info@masumiyetmüzesi.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Th 10:00-21:00. Opened in 2012, this museum is unique and a must-see when you are in the Beyoğlu area. It was created by Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk alongside a novel of the same name. It tells the love story of the two main characters from the novel, and represents life in Istanbul during the late 1970s to early 1980s, as it exhibits thousands of objects from that era. 40 TL, 30 TL students, free admission on presentation of the novel.
- 15 İstanbul Modern (İstanbul Museum of Modern Art), İskele Cd 1, Tophane ( Tophane 260 m), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Th to 20:00. A nice, organized museum with contemporary installations. It may be seen as overpriced given its small size. It also has a simple cafe. 60 TL, concession 40 TL, free for Turkish residents on Thursday.
- 16 Orhan Kemal Museum ( Tophane 600 m), ☏ . 10:00-18:00. Tiny house museum on the life of the writer Orhan Kemal. 10 TL, students 5 TL.
- 17 Adam Mickiewicz Museum, Tatlı Badem Sk 23, Tarlabaşı ( Taksim 1 km, Tarlabaşı 450 m), email@example.com. Tu-Su 9:00-17:00. A historic house museum dedicated to the life of Adam Mickiewicz, renowned Polish poet, where he lived, since he came to Turkey in September 1855 and died from illness on 26 November 1855. Free.
- 18 Miniaturk, Sütlüce ( Üniversite 1.7 km, Miniatürk 80 m; on the Golden Horn). M-F 09:00-19:00, Sa-Su 09:00-21:00. It was built in 2001 and is the first miniature park in Istanbul (the world's largest miniature park in respect to its model area). The park hosts icons of many cultures and civilizations. Models vary from the Hagia Sophia to Galata Tower, from Safranbolu Houses to the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, from Qubbat As-Sakhrah to the ruins of Mount Nemrut. In addition, some works that have not survived into the present, such as the Temple of Artemis, the Halicarnassus Mausoleum and Ajyad Castle, were recreated. All former Ottoman Empire in one place. 7.50 TL for Turks, 15 TL for foreigners.
- 19 Aynalıkavak Pavilion (Aynalıkavak Kasrı), Aynalıkavak Cd, Hasköy ( Şişhane 2.1 km - a short section of the main route from the metro station near the Kasımpaşa Naval Hospital is inaccessible for pedestrians so you may have to by pass through the labyrinth-like and steep back alleys, Hasköy 900 m, Aynalıkavak 170 m), ☏ , fax: . Nov-Mar: Tu-W, F-Su 09:00-16:00; Apr-Oct 09:00-17:00; you have to join the guided tours starting every 30 minutes in the high-season, and you may have all the place to yourself and the guide in winter. Started in 1613 by the Ottoman sultan Ahmet I (r. 1603–1617, who also had the Blue Mosque in the Old City built), and extensively renovated by the art-loving Selim III (r. 1789–1807), this sole building, which itself has the distinction of being the only intact structure that dates back to the rule of Ahmet III (r. 1703–1730), set inside a beautiful garden of pools and mature cedar and magnolia trees is the only remaining part of what was once the fourth largest palatial complex in Istanbul, extending all the way to the banks of the Golden Horn (which is now occupied by the derelict buildings of the closed shipyard, which also block part of the view towards the shore). According to the local rumour, its name (which in Turkish means "mirrored poplar") derives from the now absent mirrors gifted by Venice to the palace that were presumably "as tall as the poplars" (aynalar kavak). The highly decorative and colourful interior includes several rooms of original furnitures fit for a sultan, some of which are covered with nacre, and walls embellished with Ottoman poems praising the palace and Selim III. Downstairs is a small museum dedicated to music, which exhibit some of the instruments (violins, ouds, and kamanchehs) and gramophone records owned by Fatma Gevheri Sultana (1904–1980), the granddaughter of Abdülaziz I (r. 1861–1876). While you are outside, also check out the old main entrance (now closed) towards the Golden Horn, topped by a dome. Worth the half hour spent there. Entrance to the garden 5 TL, museum costs 10 TL extra.
- 20 [dead link] Rahmi M. Koç Industrial Museum (Sanayi Müzesi), Hasköy Cd 27, Hasköy ( Hasköy 350 m, Kırmızı Minare 10 m; on the Golden Horn), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00 (Apr-Sep: 10:00-20:00). This is a typical industry museum which showcases evolution of machines. Many transport related items including a submarine, classic cars, railway carriages, an out-of-service Bosphorus ferry and a Douglas DC-3 aircraft (possible to go inside) is, among others, in the display. Also houses a typical Istanbul streetscape with its shops and all as how it would look like in the past. 12.50 TL.
It's not a coincidence. Galatasaray SK, one of the most successful and well-known Turkish soccer teams in Europe, has its roots in this district. Don't get your eyes weary by looking for a stadium, though — after their original home stadium in Taksim Square was demolished, the games have been relocated to Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Mecidiyeköy, about 5 km north, from the 1960s until 2011, and then to Aslantepe Stadium (periodically gets officially renamed after sponsors), further north in Maslak. However, after a game in which Galatasaray beats one of the big teams, it is almost certain that you will see bands of rowdy fans marching up and down Istiklal Street, celebrating their team's victory (overly) enthusiastically, and chanting rather loudly — and you will be glad to have had left your favourite t-shirt with the colours of the away team at home.
Checkout the Beşiktaş Market right besides Galata on the way to Beşiktaş ferry terminal.
- ArkeoPera, Yenicarsi Caddesi, 16/A Petek Han, Galatasaray, ☏ . Best antiquarian bookshop in Turkey, owner knows every Turkish excavation site first hand.
- Gonul Paksoy, 6/A Atiye Sokak, Tesvikiye, ☏ . Peerless one-of-a-kind dresses made for royalty from refined, antique Ottoman-era cloth.
- 1 Paristexas Concept Store, Buyukhendek Cad. 4/A Galata, Beyoglu (next to the Galata Square), ☏ . Sertaç Haznedaroğlu, the fashion-forward owner, stocks quirky Japanese labels and rare collections created for an Eastern market by designers such as Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Chloé. Also check out custom-made leather bags & shoes by Turkish designer Ahmet Baytar.
- Sedef Mum, 50 Irmak Caddesi, Dolapdere, ☏ . Artisans of the time honoured art of candle making, intricately sculpted and aromatic wares make very portable gifts.
- 2 Seyahan Jewelry, Camekan Sokak.
- 1 Bereket Döner, İstiklal Cd, Sadri Alışık Sk 5 (It's on the street just across the Demiroren Shopping Mall.), ☏ . A quite good value restaurant featuring döner (also on the plate as opposed to the usual wrap/sandwich variety; dipped in tomato sauce to the point of swimming) and traditional Turkish cuisine. The restaurant is a self-service one, i.e., you take a tray, and order your food by pointing at the entrance, and pay at the cash register right next to the food display (take your tableware and bread at this point as you won't be served any at the table), and then take your food to a table—there are two more floors upstairs. No alcohol is served. 13-23 TL for a full meal; can be substantially cheaper if you forgo salad or appetizers.
- Right at the corner of Taksim Sq and İstiklal Ave, there is 2 a strip of eateries renowned for their ıslak burgers: these are soaked in tomato sauce (therefore ıslak, "wet") and are smaller and spicier (garlicky, in particular) than the variety found in US-origin chains. While Kızılkayalar Burger is the oldest, all stalls offer basically the same menu: döner, french fries, toasts, various cold and hot snacks, freshly squeezed juices, as well as prepackaged soft drinks and ayran. All are open 24-hr and have sit-in and take-out options.
- On the 3 Balıkpazarı Alley (literally Fish Market, next to Çiçek Pasajı and opposite Galatasaray Lisesi), there is a number of small eateries side by side, offering delicious fried mussels (midye tava, 3.50 TL per sandwich) with a yogurt sauce, best washed down with a pint of beer.
- 4 Şampiyon Kokoreç, Hüseyinağa, Sahne Sk 21, Beyoğlu, ☏ . A restaurant mostly focused in kokoreç — roasted and finely minced lamb intestines (yeap). It tastes great and is very budget-friendly: only 10 TL/wrap. Try stuffed mussels as well.
- 5 [formerly dead link] Degustasyon Restaurant, Balık Pazarı S. 25 (Located behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı. On the fish market street.), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00-02:00. The restaurant is meyhane style, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to fish and Rakı. A lot of negative reviews. 95-125 TL including local spirits.
- 6 Ficcin, Kallavi Sokağı 13 (side street off Istiklal Avenue, opposite the S. Antonio di Padova Catholic Church—there is a branch of Starbucks and a jewellery seller on the corner), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. 07:00-24:00 daily. The restaurant offers an exceptional value lunch, but is also pleasantly busy at night. Several of the staff speak English and foreign tourists are welcome alongside the many locals who eat there regularly. Fıccın is unusual in being a Circassian restaurant, which also serves Turkish food. Seats are available on the street and in several rooms inside. Alcohol is also served. Around 20 TL per person without wine.
- 7 Nevizade Street (behind Istiklal boulevard, you can find it by entering Çiçek Pasajı). One of the most famous streets in Istiklal boulevard. It's narrow, and is mostly known for its meyhane style restaurants, where lively conversation is the main dish on every table, next to fish and Rakı that is.
- 8 Haci Abdullah Lokantası, Ağa Camii, Atıf Yılmaz Caddesi (Eski Sakizagaci Caddesi) No: 9/A, ☏ , , fax: . One of the best Ottoman restaurants in the country. You can find very traditional foods there. No alcohol.
- 9 Leb-i Derya. A nice cafe-restaurant with a splendid view of the Bosphorus and the Topkapi Palace in Tunel, Beyoglu. Starters 18-45 TL, mains 30-70 TL.
- 10 The House Café, Istiklal Caddesi Mısır Apt. No:163, ☏ , fax: . M-Th 08:00-02:00; F-Sa 08:00-04:00; Su 08:00-01:00. They serve giant salads, main dishes and pizzas pleasing even to the gourmets. The menu is seasonal which allows them to use only the freshest ingredients.
- 11 Miss Pizza Sishane, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 86A (at Şişhane station), ☏ . Very cozy Italian restaurant run by three women serving pizza, pasta, and salads.
- 12 Privato, Tımarcı Sokak 3B, ☏ . 09:00-23:00. Traditional Turkish food with a focus on vegetarian dishes. Great for breakfast. Has a small patio in the back with a view of the Galata tower. Breakfast 65 TL per person, mains 30-40 TL.
- 13 360 Istanbul, Istiklal Cad. 311, Mısır Apartmanı, floor 8 (on Istiklal Avenue, next to S. Antonio Church), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. This gem is in the Beyoglu district on a 360 degrees rooftop, has awesome views of the city. Has a DJ and more party atmosphere late at night and quiet dinners before.
The golden days of the 1990s–2010s of Beyoğlu nightlife are now history. Nevertheless, Beyoğlu is still lively, and you won't go thirsty. Many clubs offer live music.
- Riddim Club Taksim, Cihangir, Sıraselviler Cd 35/1 (near Taksim square), ☏ . daily 10:00-04:30. A complex with three floor. Rıddim live is the performance hall of complex and you can listen rock pop and alternative kinds of music. Riddim Special is the conceptual parties floor. İstanbul's best R&B-HipHop club is Rıddım R&B-HipHop (the 3rd floor).
- Mektup Bar, Şehit Muhtar, İmam Adnan Sk 20, ☏ . 20:00-24:00 Fr and Sa only. Authentic live music. But, there is restaurant, too. Do expect to pay a cover charge (approximately 15 TL) if there is a band playing.
- Montreal Nevizade, Hüseyinağa, Nevizade Sk 12, ☏ . daily 10:00-04:00. Located in Nevizade where you can see so many small bars located next to each other, has live music and beer and shots in a subdued ambience of neon lights.
- 1 Snog Rooftop Bar, Galip Dede Cd 56 (Just north of the Galata tower), ☏ . Good bar. But the attraction here is the stunning view.
- Melekler Kahvesi Ayhan Işık Sk 32-A, Taksim, +90 212 251 31 01. Melekler Kahvesi which is a backstreet cafe is in Taksim. It is a very popular place among young people. You can play games such as Scrabble and drink Turkish coffee (6 TL). After drinking Turkish coffee, fortunetellers will look at the coffee grounds and tell your future for free.
- Kadınlar Kahvesi, İstiklal Cd, Ayhan Işık Sk 19, ☏ . Different types of traditional Turkish coffees and snacks.
Small streets south of Taksim Square offer a variety of cafes with more than reasonable prices. Tea can cost 1-1.50 TL instead of 5-6 TL in more touristy areas. A more authentic feel with locals spending their time there and also playing boardgames.
In Tophane near the waterfront are a number of well-known hookah/shisha (nargile) cafes all clustered together. They don't serve traditional hookah unless you are on their outdoor patios due to the national ban on indoors tobacco smoking in public places — instead you have to go for a non-tobacco version marketed as bitkisel ("herbal") to stay within the legal limits, but those passionately in love with traditional hookah usually find it unpleasant.
Much accommodation is business-oriented, for people on expenses. There's a dearth of mid-range hotels, and many hostels and other budget places have perished in the downturn. Nevertheless it's still possible to stay for budget to mid-range prices in this part of the city.
- 1 World House Hostel, Galipdede Cd 85 (near Istiklal St in Taksim), ☏ , email@example.com. Nice and friendly new hostel, popular with long-term travellers. Free internet. Dorm €12, private rooms €40 ppn.
- 2 Neverland Hostel, Boğazkesen Cd 96, Beyoğlu, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Basic hotel with internet, kitchen, common rooms, breakfast and tea; pets are welcome; Organised by a very friendly collective. Dorm €7-9, double €12 ppn, cash only.
- Hotel Mara, Turnacıbaşı Cd 4 Kuloğlu Mh, Beyoğlu (Just off Istiklal street). 3-star, reasonably spacious for the price, clean rooms with en suite bathroom. Decent wifi in the rooms. B&B double €45.
- Planet Paprika Hostel, Taksim Akarcası Sk 3 (off Istiklal St). Hostel is clean and cozy, staff is fluent in English, Turkish and Serbo-Croato-Bosnian, very friendly and helpful. Breakfast is not included, but there is a kitchen that guests can use, with free tea and coffee. Dorm €15, double €30 ppn.
- 3 Midtown Hotel Istanbul, Lamartin Cd 13 (in Taksim Sq), ☏ , fax: . Modern business hotel. B&B doubles from 430 TL.
- 4 Pera Rose Hotel, Meşrutiyet Cd 87, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu, ☏ . Nice little hotel about a ten minute walk from Taksim square, near Modern Art museum & national stadium. Free Wifi. B&B doubles from €50.
- 5 Intercontinental Istanbul (formerly Ceylan), Asker Ocağı Cd 1, Taksim, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star ambiance with the best address in the city. The bar has stunning views in the evening. The three restaurants are mediocre. Doubles from €200.
- 6 Misafir Suites, Gazeteci Erol Dernek Sk 1, Beyoğlu, ☏ . Boutique hotel with huge modern/chic rooms in a very central location. Friendly knowledgeable owner. Doubles from €120.
- 7 Pera Palace, Meşrutiyet Cd 52, Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Opened in 1892, last renovated in 2006, sits on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn. They make much of their history - Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411. More relevant, it's next to the national football stadium. Doubles from €150.
- 8 Marmara Taksim, Taksim Meydanı (Opposite Taksim metro station), ☏ , Istanbulfirstname.lastname@example.org. 4 star hotel that offers chic, contemporary design and modern facilities. With the Tepe Lounge, which is intimate and relaxing, as well as a spa. B&B doubles from €150.
- 9 Witt Istanbul Hotel, Defterdar Yokuşu 26, Cihangir, ☏ . Modern boutique hotel with 17 designer suites. All include a kitchenette, minibar, flat screen TV, iPod dock, and free wireless internet. B&B doubles from €130.
- 10 Tomtom Suites, Boğazkesen Cd Tomtom Kaptan Sk 18, Beyoğlu, ☏ . Boutique hotel with spacious luxury suites in the 1850s home of the Soeurs Gardes Malades. Tomtom was a captain in the Ottoman navy. B&B doubles from €110.
- 11 House Hotel Karaköy (Formerly Vault Karakoy), Bankalar Cd 5 (Next to Karaköy T1 tram stop, just south of Galata Tower), ☏ . Check-out: 12:00. This old bank building has been transformed into a modern elegant hotel. The rooftop lounge has stunning views over the old town and Bosphorus and great food. €100.
Generally, it is safe to walk around in this district, even by night, although crossing Tarlabaşı Boulevard (Tarlabaşı Bulvarı) towards the dilapidated and rough quarter of Tarlabaşı to the west of Beyoğlu/Istiklal Avenue wouldn't certainly be wise after nightfall. Some other parts of this district also have some crime issues. A rule of thumb to follow would be to look for young people around having fun, which suggests that you are more likely in an OK zone.
In Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, there are always (7/24) police officers on patrol and security cameras. Do not be afraid. This is a safe area.
Beware of the common bar scams. These are detailed in the dedicated section of the main Istanbul article.
There are some internet cafes on the side alleys of Istiklal Avenue, especially on the ones nearer Taksim Square. Look for the signs when passing by, especially for those hanging from the second or third floors of the buildings. Most cost around 1.50 TL/hr.